Neil Gorsuch will occupy a vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court starting today after a pair of swearing-in ceremonies in the nation's capital.
The 49-year-old appeals court judge participated in a private, mid-morning ceremony with Chief Justice John Roberts with a public ceremony scheduled later today at the White House.
After Gorsuch takes his seat today, pro-life activist Marjorie Dannenfelser predicts a "new chapter" is coming in the legal fight over abortion after the controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
"And hopefully," she adds, "all laws that will protect children from birth until natural death."
With a largely party-line vote last Friday, the Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's first appointment to the highest court in the land.
As chance would have it, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul cast the 51st and deciding vote.
Vice President Mike Pence presided as the Senate vote was tallied.
"On this vote," announced Pence, "the ayes are 54, the nays are 45. The nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch of Colorado to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is confirmed."
Three Democrats, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Indiana's Joe Donnelly, voted with the Republicans. They're all up for election in 2018 and come from states that Donald Trump won in 2016.
Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia is recovering from back surgery and did not vote.
Gorsuch replaces the late Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice who died unexpectedly in February of last year. His death set up a political fight in which Trump sought a replacement from a list of candidates suggested by conservative legal groups.
The record of the high court for the last half-century is rulings in which the justices created law instead of interpreted the laws, says Travis Weber of the Family Research Council.
"And Judge Gorsuch should serve as a counterweight to that activist thinking," Weber predicts.
"We know there was a lot of controversy from the Left over his nomination," observes Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association, "but we are certainly hoping and we believe (Gorsuch) will be an able replacement for Antonin Scalia."
Democrats filibustered Gorsuch after he sailed through confirmation hearings, forcing Republicans to come up with 60 votes to confirm him.
Instead they just changed the rules for a Supreme Court nominee – the "nuclear option" - after Democrats did the same for Barack Obama's nominees for lower courts.
Now that the rule is changed, only a majority vote is needed from here on out.
Most experts expect President Trump will have between two and four more appointments to the Supreme Court, and that's likely to cement a conservative majority on the court for years to come.
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